Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

June 21, 2021

5 Things Homebuyers Need To Know When Making an Offer

5 Things Homebuyers Need To Know When Making an Offer | Simplifying the Market

When it comes to buying a house, you’re looking for the perfect place to call home. The problem is, in today’s market there just aren’t that many homes available to purchase. With inventory hovering near record lows and sky-high buyer demand, a multi-offer scenario is the new normal. Here are five things to keep in mind when you’re ready to make an offer.

1. Know Your Numbers

Having a complete understanding of your budget and how much house you can afford is essential. That’s why you should connect with a lender to get pre-approved for a loan early in the homebuying process. Taking this step shows sellers you’re a serious, qualified buyer and can give you a competitive edge in a bidding war.

2. Brace for a Fast Pace

Today’s market is dynamic and fast-paced. According to the Realtors Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average home is on the market for just 17 days – that means from start to finish, a house for sale in today’s climate is active for roughly 2.5 weeks. A skilled agent will do everything they can to help you stay on top of every possible opportunity. And, as soon as you find the right home for your needs, that agent will help you draft and submit your best offer as quickly as possible.

3. Lean on a Real Estate Professional

While homebuying may seem like a whirlwind process to you, local real estate agents do this every day, and we know what works. That expertise can be used to give you a significant leg up on your competition. An agent can help you consider what levers you can pull that might be enticing to a seller, like:

  • Offering flexible rent-back options to give the seller more time to move out
  • Your ability to do a quick close or make an offer that’s not contingent on the sale of your current home

It may seem simple, but catering to what a seller may need can help your offer stand out.

4. Make a Strong, but Fair Offer

Let’s face it – we all love a good deal. In the past, offering at or near the asking price was enough to make your offer appealing to sellers. In today’s market, that’s often not the case. According to Lawrence YunChief Economist at NAR:

“For every listing there are 5.1 offers. Half of the homes are being sold above list price.”

In such a competitive market, emotions and prices can run high. Use an agent as your trusted advisor to make a strong, but fair offer based on market value, recent sales, and demand.

5. Be a Flexible Negotiator

If you followed tip #3, you drafted the offer with the seller’s needs in mind. That said, the seller may still counter with their own changes. Be prepared to amend your offer to include flexible move-in dates, a higher price, or minimal contingencies (conditions you set that the seller must meet for the purchase to be finalized). Just remember, there are certain contingencies you don’t want to forego. Freddie Mac explains:

Resist the temptation to waive the inspection contingency, especially in a hot market or if the home is being sold ‘as-is’, which means the seller won’t pay for repairs. Without an inspection contingency, you could be stuck with a contract on a house you can’t afford to fix.”

Bottom Line

When it’s time to make an offer, it’s important to consider not just what you need, but what the seller may need too. Let’s connect so you have expert advice on this step in the homebuying process to put your best offer on the table.

June 18, 2021

Don’t Wait To Sell Your House

Don’t Wait To Sell Your House | Simplifying The Market

We’re in the ultimate sellers’ market right now. If you’re a homeowner thinking about selling, you have a huge advantage in today’s housing market. High buyer demand paired with very few houses for sale makes this the optimal time to sell for those who are ready to do so. Whatever the move you want to make looks like, here’s an overview of what’s creating the prime opportunity to sell this summer.

High Buyer Demand

Demand is strong, and buyers are actively searching for homes to purchase. In the Realtors Confidence Index Survey published monthly by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), buyer traffic is considered “very strong” in almost every state. Homebuyers aren’t just great in number right now – they’re also determined to find their dream home. NAR shows the average home for sale today receives five offers from hopeful buyers. These increasingly frequent bidding wars can drive up the price of your house, which is why high demand from competitive homebuyers is such a win for this summer’s sellers.

Low Inventory of Houses for Sale

Purchaser demand is so high, the market is running out of available homes for sale. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.comexplains:

“For most sellers listing sooner rather than later could really pay off with less competition from other sellers and potentially a higher sales price… They’ll also avoid some big unknowns lurking later in the year, namely another possible surge in COVID cases, rising interest rates and the potential for more sellers to enter the market.”

NAR also reveals that unsold inventory sits at a 2.4-months’ supply at the current sales pace. This is far lower than the historical norm of a 6.0-months’ supply. Homes are essentially selling as fast as they’re hitting the market. Below is a graph of the existing inventory of single-family homes for sale:Don’t Wait To Sell Your House | Simplifying The MarketAt the same time, homebuilders are increasing construction this year, but they can’t keep up with the growing demand. While reporting on the inventory of newly constructed homes, the U.S. Census Bureau notes:

“The seasonally‐adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of April was 316,000. This represents a supply of 4.4 months at the current sales rate.”

What Does This Mean for You? 

If you’re thinking of putting your house on the market, don’t wait. A seller will always negotiate the best deal when demand is high and supply is low. That’s exactly what’s happening in the real estate market today.

Bottom Line

As vaccine rollouts progress and we continue to see the economy recover, more houses will come to the market. Don’t wait for the competition in your neighborhood to increase. If you’re ready to make a move, now is the time to sell. Let’s connect today to get your house listed at this optimal moment in time.

June 15, 2021

The Right Expert Will Guide You Through This Unprecedented Market

The Right Expert Will Guide You Through This Unprecedented Market | Simplifying The Market

In a normal market, it’s good to have an experienced guide coaching you through the process of buying or selling a home. That person can advise you on important things like pricing your home correctly or the first steps to take when you’re ready to buy. However, the market we’re in today is far from normal. As a result, an expert isn’t just good to have by your side – an expert is essential.

Today’s housing market is full of extremes. Mortgage rates hovering near record-lows are driving high buyer demand. On the other hand, an absence of sellers is creating record-low housing inventory. This imbalance in supply and demand is leading to a skyrocketing rate of bidding wars and more houses selling over their asking price. This is driving home price appreciation and gains in home equity. These market conditions aren’t just extreme – they can be overwhelming. Having a trusted expert to coach you through the process of buying and selling a home gives you clarity, confidence, and success through each step.

Here are just a few of the ways a real estate expert is invaluable:

  • Contracts – We help with the disclosures and contracts necessary in today’s heavily regulated environment.
  • Experience – We’re well-versed in real estate and experienced with the entire sales process, including how it’s changed over the past year.
  • Negotiations – We act as a buffer in negotiations with all parties throughout the entire transaction while advocating for your best interests.
  • Education – We simply and effectively explain today’s market conditions and decipher what they mean for your individual goals.
  • Pricing – We help you understand today’s real estate values when setting the price of your home or making an offer to purchase one.

A real estate agent can be your essential guide through this unprecedented market, but truth be told, not all agents are created equal. A true expert can carefully walk you through the whole real estate process, look out for your unique needs, and advise you on the best ways to achieve success. Finding the right agent should be your top priority when you’re ready to buy or sell a home.

So, how do you choose the right expert?

It starts with trust. You’ll have to be able to trust the advice your agent is going to give you, so make sure you’re connected to a true professional. An agent can’t give you perfect advice because it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going to happen at every turn – especially in this unique market. A true professional expert can, however, give you the best possible advice based on the information and situation at hand, helping you make the necessary adjustments and best decisions along the way. The right agent – the professional – will help you plan the steps to take for success, advocate for you throughout the process, and coach you on the essential knowledge you need to make confident decisions toward your goals. That’s exactly what you want and deserve.

Bottom Line

It’s crucial right now to work with a real estate expert who understands how the market is changing and what that means for home buyers and sellers. If you’re planning to make a move this year, let’s connect so you have someone who can answer your questions, give you the best advice, and guide you along the way.

June 9, 2021

Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand

Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand | Simplifying The Market

Home price appreciation continues to accelerate. Today, prices are driven by the simple concept of supply and demand. Pricing of any item is determined by how many items are available compared to how many people want to buy that item. As a result, the strong year-over-year home price appreciation is simple to explain. The demand for housing is up while the supply of homes for sale hovers at historic lows.

Let’s use three maps to show how this theory continues to affect the residential real estate market.

Map #1 – State-by-state price appreciation reported by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) for the first quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter of 2020:Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand | Simplifying The MarketAs the map shows, certain states (colored in red) have appreciated well above the national average of 12.6%.

Map #2 – The change in state-by-state inventory levels year-over-year reported by realtor.com:Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand | Simplifying The MarketComparing the two maps shows a correlation between change in listing inventory and price appreciation in many states. The best examples are Idaho, Utah, and Arizona. Though the correlation is not as easy to see in every state, the overall picture is one of causation.

The reason prices continue to accelerate is that housing inventory is still at all-time lows while demand remains high. However, this may be changing.

Is there relief around the corner?

The report by realtor.com also shows the monthly change in inventory for each state.

Map #3 – State-by-state changes in inventory levels month-over-month reported by realtor.com:Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand | Simplifying The MarketAs the map indicates, 39 of the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) saw increases in inventory over the last month. This may be evidence that homeowners who have been afraid to let buyers in their homes during the pandemic are now putting their houses on the market.

We’ll know for certain as we move through the rest of the year.

Bottom Line

Some are concerned by the rapid price appreciation we’ve experienced over the last year. The maps above show that the increases were warranted based on great demand and limited supply. Going forward, if the number of homes for sale better aligns with demand, price appreciation will moderate to more historical levels.

May 26, 2021

Buying a Home Is Still Affordable

Buying a Home Is Still Affordable | Simplifying The Market

The last year has put emphasis on the importance of one’s home. As a result, some renters are making the jump into homeownership while some homeowners are re-evaluating their current house and considering a move to one that better fits their current lifestyle. Understanding how housing affordability works and the main market factors that impact it may help those who are ready to buy a home narrow down the optimal window of time in which to make a purchase.

There are three main factors that go into determining how affordable homes are for buyers:

  1. Mortgage Rates
  2. Mortgage Payments as a Percentage of Income
  3. Home Prices

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) produces a Housing Affordability Index. It takes these three factors into account and determines an overall affordability score for housing. According to NAR, the index:

“…measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national and regional levels based on the most recent price and income data.”

Their methodology states:

“To interpret the indices, a value of 100 means that a family with the median income has exactly enough income to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home. An index above 100 signifies that family earning the median income has more than enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a median-priced home, assuming a 20 percent down payment.”

So, the higher the index, the more affordable it is to purchase a home. Here’s a graph of the index going back to 1990:Buying a Home Is Still Affordable | Simplifying The MarketThe blue bar represents today’s affordability. We can see that homes are more affordable now than they’ve been at any point since the housing crash when distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) dominated the market. Those properties were sold at large discounts not seen before in the housing market for almost one hundred years.

Why are homes so affordable today?

Although there are three factors that drive the overall equation, the one that’s playing the largest part in today’s homebuying affordability is historically low mortgage rates. Based on this primary factor, we can see that it’s more affordable to buy a home today than at any time in the last eight years.

If you’re considering purchasing your first home or moving up to the one you’ve always hoped for, it’s important to understand how affordability plays into the overall cost of your home. With that in mind, buying while mortgage rates are as low as they are now may save you quite a bit of money over the life of your home loan.

Bottom Line

If you feel ready to buy, purchasing a home this summer may save you a significant amount of money over time based on historical affordability trends. Let’s connect today to determine if now is the right time for you to make your move.

May 20, 2021

Should I Move or Refinance

Should I Move or Refinance? | Simplifying The Market

The level of equity homeowners have is at an all-time high. According to the U.S. Censusover 38% of owner-occupied homes are owned free and clear, meaning they don’t have a mortgage. Those with a mortgage are seeing their equity skyrocket too. Every time real estate values increase, homeowners get a dollar-for-dollar gain in their home equity.

According to the first-quarter 2021 U.S. Home Equity Report from ATTOM Data Solutions:

“17.8 million residential properties in the United States were considered equity-rich, meaning that the combined estimated amount of loans secured by those properties was 50 percent or less of their estimated market value.

The count of equity-rich properties in the first quarter of 2021 represented 31.9 percent, or about one in three, of the 55.8 million mortgaged homes in the United States. That was up from 30.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, 28.3 percent in the third quarter and 26.5 percent in the first quarter of 2020.”

This surge in home equity has given most homeowners the opportunity to use that equity in one of two ways:

  1. Refinance to cash out some of the equity or lower their current payment
  2. Move to a home that better fits their current needs

Let’s break down the possibilities.

1. Refinance

An abundance of equity and record-low mortgage rates can make refinancing a home very easy. Some homeowners choose to refinance so they can lower their payments. Others convert a portion of the equity to cash while keeping their monthly payment the same.

There are many homeowners who could take advantage of lower rates and higher levels of equity, but they haven’t yet. According to an Economic & Housing Research Note from earlier this month, there were over five million homeowners with a loan funded by Freddie Mac who would benefit by refinancing their loan. As of January 2021, there were:

  • 452,122 loans with an average mortgage rate of 6.17%
  • 1,027,834 loans with an average mortgage rate of 4.39%
  • 3,687,780 loans with an average mortgage rate of 4.21%

With mortgage rates currently hovering around 3%, any of these homeowners would benefit from refinancing. They could lower their payments by hundreds of dollars per month or cash out large sums of equity while keeping their monthly payment the same.

Example:

If a homeowner has a $200,000 fixed-rate mortgage with a 6% interest rate and refinances that loan to a 3% interest rate, their monthly mortgage payment (principal and interest) will go from $1,199 per month to $843 per month – a savings of $356 a month, or $4,272 each year.

On the other hand, if they keep their mortgage payment the same, they could cash out a significant amount of their equity.

2. Move into your dream home

The past year prompted many households to redefine what a dream home really means, and it’s something different to everyone. Those who have a high mortgage rate could use their equity as a down payment and perhaps buy their next home without significantly raising their mortgage payment.

Example:

Suppose a person bought a house for $216,000 at the height of the market in 2006. (The median home price in May of 2006). If they put 10% down and took out a mortgage of $194,400 at 6.41% (the average rate in 2006), the monthly mortgage payment (principal and interest) would have been $1,217.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a typical single-family home has grown in value by approximately $150,000 over the last fifteen years. That means the $216,000 house would be worth about $366,000 today.

After deducting selling expenses, they would be left with about $130,000 ($150,000 minus approximately $20,000 in selling expenses).

A seller could take that equity and use it as a down payment on a new house. Let’s assume they purchased a home for $450,000 (roughly $80,000 more than the value of their current home). If they put the $130,000 down, they could take out a mortgage of $320,000 with a 3% interest rate. The monthly mortgage payment (principal and interest) would be $1,349. Therefore, they could buy a home worth $80,000 more than the one they have today and only spend an extra $132 per month.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re refinancing your house or moving to a new home, your current mortgage rate and your level of equity are crucial in your decision-making process. Look at your mortgage documentation to find out your interest rate, and then let’s connect to determine the potential equity in your home. You may be surprised by the opportunities you have.

May 19, 2021

Sellers Are Ready To Enter the Housing Market

Sellers Are Ready To Enter the Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

One of the biggest questions in real estate today is, “When will sellers return to the housing market?” An ongoing shortage of home supply has created a hyper-competitive environment for hopeful buyers, leading to the ultimate sellers’ market. However, as the economy continues to improve and more people get vaccinated, more sellers may finally be in sight.

The Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) by Fannie Mae recently noted the percentage of consumer respondents who say it’s a good time to sell a home increased from 61% to 67%. Doug Duncan, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at Fannie Maeindicates:

Consumer positivity regarding home-selling conditions nearly matched its all-time high.” (See graph below):

Sellers Are Ready To Enter the Housing Market | Simplifying The MarketFannie Mae isn’t the only expert group noticing a rise in the percentage of people thinking about selling. George Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.comshares:

“The results of a realtor.com survey . . . showed that one-in-ten homeowners plans to sell this year, with 63 percent of those, looking to list in the next 6 months. Just as encouragingly, close to two-thirds of sellers plan to sell their homes at prices under $350,000, which would offer a tremendous boost to affordable housing for first-time buyers.”

Bottom Line

If you’re considering selling your house, don’t wait for more competition to pop up in your neighborhood. Let’s connect today to explore the benefits of selling your house now before more homes come to the market.

May 18, 2021

Your Home Could Be the Oasis in an Inventory Desert

Homebuyers are flooding the housing market right now to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates. Many have a sense of urgency to find a home soon since experts forecast a steady rise in both rates and home prices this year and next. As a result, buyer demand greatly outweighs the current housing supply. Here’s how the shortage of houses for sale sets yours up to be the oasis in an inventory desert.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), today’s housing inventory sits at an incredibly low 2.1-month supply, far below the 6-month mark for a neutral market. Inventory of single-family homes a year ago was already very low, and as you can see in the graph below, this year’s levels are even lower:Your House Could Be the Oasis in an Inventory Desert | Simplifying The MarketDue to these market conditions, today’s buyers frequently enter fierce bidding wars while trying to purchase a home. This in turn drives up home prices and gives sellers incredible leverage in the negotiation process, two big wins if you’re going to sell your house this year.

Bottom Line

In such a hot market, it can feel as though the supply of homes has virtually dried up, leaving buyers to wander in an inventory desert. That’s why there’s never been a better time to sell. To a parched buyer needing to secure a home as soon as possible, your house could be a true oasis.

May 17, 2021

When It Comes to Selling a House, Your Time Is Money

May 17, 2021

Don't Forget to Budget for Closing Costs

 

When buying a home, it’s important to have a budget and make sure you plan ahead for certain homebuying expenses. Saving for a down payment is the main cost that comes to mind for many, but budgeting for the closing costs required to get a mortgage is just as important.

What Are Closing Costs?

According to Trulia:

When you close on a home, a number of fees are due. They typically range from 2% to 5% of the total cost of the home, and can include title insurance, origination fees, underwriting fees, document preparation fees, and more.”

For example, for someone buying a $300,000 home, they could potentially have between $6,000 and $15,000 in closing fees. If you’re in the market for a home above this price range, your closing costs could be greater. As mentioned above, closing costs are typically between 2% and 5% of your purchase price. 

Trulia gives more great advice, explaining:

“There will be lots of paperwork in front of you on closing day, and not enough time to read them all. Work closely with your real estate agent, lender, and attorney, if you have one, to get all the documents you need ahead of time.

The most important thing to read is the closing disclosure, which shows your loan terms, final closing costs, and any outstanding fees. You’ll get this form about three days before closing since, once you (the borrower) sign it, there’s a three-day waiting period before you can sign the mortgage loan docs. If you have any questions about the numbers or what any of the mortgage terms mean, this is the time to ask—your real estate agent is a great resource for getting you all the answers you need.”

Bottom Line

As home prices are rising and more buyers are finding themselves competing in bidding wars, it’s more important than ever to make sure your plan includes budgeting for closing costs. Let’s connect to be sure you have everything you need to land your dream home.